Florida advances to men's tennis championship match

Special to Gatorsports.com
Florida's Ben Shelton reacts Friday during his singles match against Texas at the NCAA D1 Tennis Championships at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.

ORLANDO — No. 1-seeded Florida defeated four seed Texas 4-0 Friday to advance to the championship match of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona.

Florida (25-2) will play two-seeded Baylor (34-4), which eliminated Tennessee 4-2 in the day's first semifinal, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Tennis Channel) for the national championship, what would be the Gators' first.

“It’s special. I think we have a really special team,” UF coach Bryan Shelton said. “Everyone has worked so hard to put us in this position.

"I felt like on the big points, we were able to keep our composure and see the ball and make the plays we needed to make. And I think getting that doubles point gave us a lot of confidence as well. And then going into the singles, which has been our strength all season long, especially with our depth, I think our whole team felt like we had a good chance to really secure a win tonight. Up and down the line, I didn't think anyone really let anything get away, one through six. So I think that's what makes us such a good team, is that we're so deep and we have that belief in one another.”

After a relay delay, the Gators got out to a 1-0 lead after winning the doubles point behind No. 2 Sam Riffice-Ben Shelton, 6-4, and No. 3 Brian Berdusco-Will Grant, 6-2.

Then the Gators rolled through singles play with wins by Andy Andrade at No. 3 (6-3, 7-5), Blaise Bicknell at No. 4 (6-1, 7-5) and Shelton at No. 5 singles (6-3, 6-0).

“Right now I’m playing with a lot of confidence,’’ Andrade said. “I have so much trust in our guys."

The Gators avenged one of their two losses this season. The Longhorns (24-6) beat UF 4-3 on Jan. 23 at the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Austin.

Notes: This is Florida's fourth time in the final four (2000, 2005,2019, 2021) and the second time under Bryan Shelton. ... The Gators have made the final four for the second straight NCAA Tournament. ... UF advanced for the first time to the final of the NCAA Tournament.

DOUBLES RESULTS: 3, 2

1. Duarte Vale/Johannes Ingildsen (UF) vs. Eliot Spizzirri/Siem Woldeab (TEX) 5-5 *unfinished*

2. Sam Riffice/Ben Shelton (UF) vs. Cleeve Harper/Chih Chi Huang (TEX) 6-4

3. Will Grant/Brian Berdusco (UF) def. Micah Braswell/Payton Holden (TEX) 6-2

SINGLES RESULTS: 5, 4, 3

1. Duarte Vale (UF) vs. Eliot Spizzirri (TEX) 6-4, 5-6 *unfinished*

2. Sam Riffice (UF) vs. Micah Braswell (TEX) 6-7, 2-3 *unfinished*

3. Andy Andrade (UF) vs. Siem Woldeab (TEX) 6-3, 7-5

4. Blaise Bicknell (UF) vs. Cleeve Harper (TEX) 6-1, 7-5

5. Ben Shelton (UF) def. Chih Chi Huang (TEX) 6-3, 6-0

6. Josh Goodger (UF) vs. Evin McDonald (TEX) 2-6, 6-4, 3-4 *unfinished*

Florida's Blaise Bicknell in action during his singles match Friday against Texas at NCAA D1 Tennis Championships at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.